As you look around, your eye and brain work together to gather information. You notice a piece of fruit nearby and decide whether you want to eat it. You look at the sky and decide that it will not rain today. You see the words you are now reading and sort out the meaning. Actually, you are being affected by color. Really?
The color of the fruit you saw helps you to decide its ripeness and desirability. The color of the sky and clouds helps you to know the weather. As you read the words of this article, your eyes are comfortable with the color contrast between the text and the background. Yes, perhaps without noticing it, you constantly use color to help you process information about the world around you. But color also has an impact on your emotions.
THE EMOTIONAL IMPACT OF COLOR
As you walk down the aisles of a store, you are surrounded by an array of packaging that is designed to catch your eye. Whether you realize it or not, advertisers carefully select colors and color combinations to appeal to your specific desires, your gender, and your age group. Home decorators, clothing designers, and artists also know that colors can evoke emotional response.
People may interpret colors in different ways because of local culture and customs. For example, some people in Asia associate red with good fortune and celebration, but in parts of Africa, red is the color of mourning. Despite their upbringing, however, humans share the same emotional response to certain colors. Let us consider three colors and how they can affect you.
RED has very high visibility. Red has often been associated with energy, war, and danger. It is an emotionally intense color and can enhance human metabolism, increase respiration rate, and raise blood pressure.
In the Bible, the Hebrew word for “red” comes from a word meaning “blood.” The Bible uses bright red, or scarlet, to paint a memorable image of a murderous prostitute dressed in purple and scarlet riding on “a scarlet-colored wild beast . . . full of blasphemous names.”
GREEN prompts a reaction opposite to that of red, for it slows metabolism and produces a calming effect. Green is a restful color and is often associated with tranquillity. We feel relaxed when we see green gardens and hillsides. The Genesis account of creation says that God provided green grass and vegetation for mankind.
WHITE is often associated with light, safety, and cleanness. It is also connected with the qualities of goodness, innocence, and purity. White is the color most often mentioned in the Bible. In visions, humans and angels are shown dressed in white, emphasizing righteousness and spiritual cleanness. (John 20:12; Revelation 3:4; 7:9, 13, 14) White horses with riders wearing white, clean linen symbolize righteous warfare. (Revelation 19:14) God uses the color white to emphasize that he is willing to forgive sins: “Though the sins of you people should prove to be as scarlet, they will be made white just like snow.”
COLOR AS A MEMORY TOOL
The Bible’s use of color demonstrates God’s understanding of the human emotional response to color. For example, the Bible book of Revelation foretells our current human experience, including war, famine, and unnatural death from food shortage and plague. To help us remember this, a striking vision introduces us to riders on horses
First, there is a pure-white horse, which symbolizes the righteous warfare of Christ Jesus. Next, we see a fiery-red horse, which represents warfare between nations. This horse is followed by an ominous black horse, which designates famine. Then we see a “pale horse; and the one seated upon it had the name Death.” (Revelation 6:1-8) The color of each horse can evoke an emotional response within us that matches the symbolism of the horse. We can easily remember these colored horses and what they teach us about our day.
There are many examples in the Bible of the use of color to paint vivid word pictures. Yes, the Creator of light, color, and the human eye masterfully uses color as a teaching tool to portray images that are understandable and memorable to readers. Color helps us to gather and process information. Color affects our emotions. Color can help us remember important concepts. Color is a loving gift from our Creator to help us enjoy life.